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Slipping away, I didn’t want to hear any more. I left, wandering as deep into the crevices of the house as I could. I went as far as I could possibly get from them. I could still hear faint shouts and accusations, and I closed my eyes. I had gotten all too used to it all.
“Jane?” Big, blue eyes called out to me from under the bed. I gently pulled her out from under the bed, holding her tightly, as she needed. I knew she needed me.
“Shhhhh…,” I said, my own throat aching tightly as she started to cry into my shoulder. She was so small- only five years old. She didn’t deserve this- no one deserved this. When my parents divorced…I remember how scared I was. To have the one thing, your parents, leave each other…is so terrifying. They’re supposed to be the people you can wholly depend on in this world. I learned as I grew up…people who had both parents, good parents…they were very, very fortunate people. I knew my parents loved me, just not each other. I didn’t know my Dad loved me, not when he left. But I never doubted my Mom. She was the most…she was my role model.
I remembered all the years a single divorce stole from us, and I held her closer. It wasn’t fair…Why couldn’t my Dad find a woman he truly loved? Just…why? There were so many questions- too many questions. All of them only he could answer, and he didn’t have the answers yet. I couldn’t stand having a little girl like me, my little sister, to cry just like I did. My step mother…I didn’t get along with her perfectly. I never had. But how..? I couldn’t stand by, and I couldn’t let my sister hear them.
I stood up to leave, and she desperately snatched my arm, big, round, diamond tears escaping her eyes. She already felt like she was losing them…she already felt like they’d left her. I couldn’t walk away, not when she needed me, when she needed someone. She was so…innocent still. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand her crying. I picked her up, even though she was too big. Even though she was already so heavy it was impossible for me to hold her for long.
“Don’t leave,” She said quietly, and I hugged her closer, taking her down with me. The staircase was perilous with her in my arms, but I managed it, finally putting her down and holding her hand as I approached them. Her eyes, already red and puffy, grew into two wide, round, glassy mirrors and we approached them, until she cowered behind me.
They were shouting, screaming hatefully at each other, and she tried to pull me away form them, crying. I wanted to tell her to close her eyes- to go back upstairs…but I knew she’d never go alone.
“Stop!” I screamed, and they both looked at us. Slowly, I watched them realize they weren’t alone in their house. I watched realization dawn on them both, as they stared at two young girls, a little baby cowering behind her older sister, both crying. They stared, and stared, and stared, until, ashamed, they looked in opposite directions. They didn’t look at us. They didn’t look at each other.
My sister pulled my hand away, and we both stared at each other, and then them. And then my five year old sister walked out on her parents, pulling me in tow.
She ran away, up stairs, anxiously pulling me back up with her. She sat me silently on the bed, pulling out her favorite dolls. She held a white stuffed rabbit in her arms- the rabbit she’d had since she was a baby. It was already mangy and torn and old, and it was her favorite. I pulled her to sit closer to me, and she smiled.
“Will you play doll house with me?”